Lara Gut-Behrami finally has her Olympic gold medal, winning the super-G at the Beijing Games on Friday. And it came in the event that has caused the Swiss skier so much disappointment on one of sport's biggest stages. Two-time Olympic Alpine gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin finished a distant ninth, 0.79 seconds behind Gut-Behrami. At least the American finished this time, after skiing out in both her previous races in Beijing.
Gut-Behrami's gold comes after two consecutive fourth-place finishes in super-G at the Olympics. The 30-year-old has two bronze medals, including one from Monday's giant slalom. She cried after getting only bronze in the downhill in 2014. There were more tears from her on Friday, and Gut-Behrami wiped them from her eyes as she stared down at the gold medal around her neck after stepping onto the top spot of an Olympic podium for the first time.
"I was so nervous in the finish someone would come faster," said Gut-Behrami, who started seventh on the course known as The Rock. "I am trying to enjoy it, but I think I am going to need a few more days to understand what is going on." Gut-Behrami had a brilliant world championships last year, winning two gold medals in Cortina, in super-G and giant slalom. She won a super-G in her native Switzerland in December but crashed in another super-G the next day.
Shortly afterward, she missed nearly four weeks of racing after contracting COVID-19. Her teammate, Michelle Gisin, also had to recover from illness, following a diagnosis of mononucleosis in July. Gisin also cried on the podium Friday after finishing third, 0.30 seconds behind Gut-Behrami. "It's insane. I don't really get this into my head, I had mononucleosis this summer, I couldn't train at all," Gisin said. "I was watching the (Tokyo) Olympics from home and this was the worst time, the worst moment. I was struggling so hard, I almost couldn't make it up the stairs all day long.
"I watched the Olympics and that was what kept me sane. All the emotions gave me so much and I was thinking maybe I can make it back in time ... It's just way too beautiful that it all worked out." Mirjam Puchner of Austria clinched silver in her first Olympic race, finishing 0.22 seconds behind Gut-Behrami. "I am speechless. I never thought I could do this because super-G was always a little bit difficult for me, but today I had a good feeling," she said.
Defending champion Ester Ledecka failed in her bid to win an unprecedented back-to-back double. She finished 0.43 behind in fifth. Ledecka became the first competitor to win gold in two different sports at the same Winter Games with her surprise victory in the super-G in Pyeongchang in 2018. She successfully defended her gold in snowboarding's parallel giant slalom on Tuesday. The Italians have dominated the women's super-G this season, winning six out of the seven World Cup races and occupying the top three spots in the discipline rankings. But Sofia Goggia, who is still hoping to defend her downhill title on Tuesday, decided not to enter the super-G race as she works her way back from a crash last month. Federica Brignone in seventh was the highest-placed Italian.